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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Ind. Gov't. - "AG Zoeller takes stand on voting case"

Maureen Hayden of the CNHI Statehouse Bureau reports this afternoon on the Anderson Herald-Bulletin site in a story that begins:

Indiana is stepping into a closely watched case that tests the principle of “one person, one vote.”

It has joined a group of 21 states asking the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the practice of counting total population - and not just eligible voters - when carving up state election districts.

Late last month, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller signed onto a brief in the case, Evenwel v. Abbott. The case was brought by two Texas citizens who claim their voting power is diluted when districts are created because non-eligible voters - including undocumented immigrants, prisoners and children - are counted the same way as they are.

Zoeller and other attorneys general say throwing out the current system, which relies on U.S. Census data, would create havoc.

“We’d have to create a whole new system that’s fair, representational and non-partisan,” said Zoeller, “and one that could stand up in court.”

Legal experts and lawmakers are closely [watching] the outcome. If plaintiffs prevail - and only eligible voters are included when district lines are drawn - it would mean the exclusion of millions of people now counted as part of the process that takes place every 10 years.

Most states have drawn legislative maps based on total population, without regard to legal status or voter eligibility, for more than 50 years. They’ve done so since a 1964 Supreme Court ruling that said states must draw electoral districts based on population so political power is shared equally. But the court didn’t specify the method states should use.

The process of using U.S. Census numbers has withstood legal challenges, Zoeller said, calling it a “gold standard” because it allows states to get as close as possible to a goal of “fair and effective” representation of everyone served by government.

ILB: Here is the SCOTUSblog case page on Evenwel v. Abbott.

Here is the amicus brief
filed by the states of: New York, Alaska, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. The case, which originated in Texas, will be argued Dec. 8, 2015.

This article, on listed on SCOTUSblog case page, discusses that the current "one person-one vote" system" obtains its data from the decennial census. Counting "citizens" or "registered voters" instead would prov e unworkable:

Current data on citizenship or on registered voters is simply too inaccurate or contested to be used in redistricting. Unless the Justices are prepared to mandate a new kind of “citizen census” or to constitutionalize the voter registration process, then they should leave it to the states to draw their districts using the most accurate data available.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 14, 2015 04:07 PM
Posted to Indiana Government